- 1 Top 6 Best Instant Film Cameras
- 2 Best Instant Film Cameras Buyer’s Guide
To help you find the best instant film cameras available for purchase today, we bought the top 20 options and put our photography skills to the test. In order to determine which camera is the best, we tested each option simply by taking pictures. During this testing, we measured each camera’s ability to produce high-quality images, overall print quality and additional adjustability or customization features. We also looked at features like durability, print times and digital storage options. Finally, we measured each camera based on its low-light performance and how much the flash helped, if one was included on the camera. If your photography has remained digital, you might want to pick up the best digital picture frame instead.
With all of these features in mind, we chose the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 as our top pick. With its pro functionality, superb image quality and solid design, this instant film camera provides a great user experience every single time. Keep reading below to learn more about the Instax Mini 9 and the other instant film cameras we’ve included on our list.
Top 6 Best Instant Film Cameras
#1 Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Instant Film Camera
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is the best instant camera for weddings with all of its premium features, superb image quality and fast printing times. If you’re looking for a fun, easy-to-use and affordable camera without sacrificing functionality or quality, this is the choice for you.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 is one of the most popular instant film cameras, and it’s easy to see why. For starters, the camera is designed to fit comfortably in your hand, no matter the type of picture you’re taking. It’s also really easy to use, with all of the buttons and dials easily within reach of your fingers without needing to awkwardly adjust your grip. You can even purchase the camera is a huge variety of different colors, another feature that is great for use during weddings or parties.
The Instax Mini 9 is also a superb camera in and of itself. With automatic exposure, a macro lens adapter, built-in flash and “High Key” mode, you’ll be able to take just about any kind of picture you want. The camera even includes a selfie mirror near the lens so you can get a perfect shot every time. And best of all, the Instax produces excellent quality images almost every single time, although it can sometimes struggle in low lighting situations. Which is where the best selfie light can come in handy.
#2 Polaroid Snap Instant Film Digital Camera
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Polaroid Snap instant digital camera is the best Polaroid instant camera on our list because it seamlessly blends tradition and new technology; a built-in Zero Ink printer as well as digital camera.
The Polaroid Snap instant digital camera takes a minimalistic approach to instant film photography. It’s designed to be compact and able to fit easily into your pocket or bag. The camera is also very visually appealing with its variety of colors and inclusion of the classic Polaroid rainbow. This simplistic design also makes the camera incredibly easy to use. There are only a few buttons to choose from, which makes the overall operation of the camera much easier.
When it comes to picture quality, the Polaroid Snap is hard to beat. With a 10 megapixel sensor, you’ll be printing high-quality pictures every time. You can even store those pictures digitally, if you’d like, with the included memory card slot, a feature you don’t see often on instant film cameras. There’s an onboard flash, as well, which helps improve your pictures taken at night. We were a bit disappointed with the lack of customizability features (shutter speed, aperture, etc.) and zoom, but the Polaroid still excels in spite of these features, making it a fun point and shoot option that doesn’t require much thought or effort to get good photos. Which is somewhat like the best action cameras; just point and it record.
#3 Canon IVY CLIQ Instant Film Camera
Award: BEST COMPACT
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Canon IVY CLIQ instant camera printer is the best Zero Ink camera on our list, eliminating messy and smudged prints. This instant camera is compact and ultra-portable.
Zero Ink (ZINK) printing technology is becoming more and more popular in instant film cameras because it’s less expensive than standard ink and toner photo printing technology. Many instant cameras are hit or miss when it comes to printing photos on ZINK film, but the Canon IVY CLIQ rises above the rest. It’s only a 5 megapixel camera, but prints beautifully on the ZINK film. What’s even better is that the ZINK film here can double as stickers simply by peeling off the back of the film once it’s been printed.
We were also impressed with the overall design of the IVY CLIQ. It’s the most compact option on our list, measuring in at just 4.8 x 3.2 x 0.9 inches. As such, you’ll be able to use 2” x 3” or 2” x 2” ZINK film. You can also purchase the camera in a variety of different colors to fit your personal preferences. When it comes to snapping pictures, you even have the option of storing your photos on a memory card. This is super helpful, but note that you’ll need to still have ZINK film loaded into the camera, even if you just want to store your photos, which was a letdown. In the end, the Canon IVY CLIQ packs a lot of punch into its compact design, making it a great choice for on-the-go photographers. We’ve also heard that this is a great complement to our guide on “what camera YouTubers use to vlog“.
#4 Kodak PRINTOMATIC Digital Instant Film Camera
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: With long-lasting battery life, the Kodak PRINTOMATIC is the best rechargeable instant camera on our list. The camera is also incredibly easy to use, with a high image and print quality that ranks among the best.
If there’s one thing you might not expect from a compact digital camera that also doubles as a printer, is a great battery life, especially when you throw a built-in flash into the mix. However, the Kodak PRINTOMATIC instant camera subverts those expectations with the best battery life on our list. You can take and print up to 40 shots on a single charge, an impressive feat for rechargeable instant film cameras. When it comes time for a charge, simply plug the camera in via the included USB cable and you’ll be back up and running in no time.
This is also an incredibly simple instant film camera, which is good in some senses and disappointing in others. For starters, the simplicity makes it very user friendly, especially for beginners and those who don’t need much. However, its simplistic design is decidedly lacking in adjustability and customizability. You get two different color modes (color or black and white), but no exposure or zoom settings. Fortunately, you still get a 10 megapixel sensor on the PRINTOMATIC camera, so you’ll get high-quality prints almost every time. You can even store those photos on an SD card instead of printing them, without the need for film to be loaded into the camera. And this is far cheaper than the best point and shooter cameras under $500.
#5 Dragon Touch InstantFun Instant Film Camera
Award: BEST USER FRIENDLY
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Dragon Touch InstantFun instant print camera is our best option for kids because of its impressively simple user interface and functionality, as well as its durable design.
The Dragon Touch InstantFun camera is the perfect instant film camera for children, but it functions as a lot more than just an instant print option. The camera can also record full HD video and add effects to your photos like frames, filters and line drawings. Just be aware that any picture printing requires an SD card to function, which can be somewhat restrictive.
The best thing by far about the Dragon Touch InstantFun is its user-friendly design. This was specifically made for kids, and so it features 5 easy to use buttons, a color screen for easier view finding and an anti-drop silicon casing for greater protection. Even changing film rolls is made simple with this camera, so kids won’t come looking for a parent’s help when they run out. If you’re looking for an instant camera to spur your kids’ creativity, you cannot go wrong with the Dragon Touch InstantFun. Also check out our best cheap vlogging cameras for youtube.
#6 Sharper Image Instant Camera
Award: BEST BUDGET
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sharper Image Instant Camera is the best durable instant camera on a budget. With multiple lighting modes and a durable casing, this instant film camera offers a ton of functionality.
The first thing you might notice about the Sharper Image is its size. This is definitely one of the larger instant film cameras on our list, which is due in part to its durable casing. We were most impressed about the overall durability of the camera; it can easily take a couple bumps and hits without much problem at all. The camera even includes a built-in lens cover and wrist strap for better overall protection. The larger design, while not as portable, also makes the Sharper Image camera much easier to hold while taking photos.
The Sharper Image also offers five different lighting/brightness modes, so you can adjust your exposure on the fly to get the best picture possible. Simply twist the dial around the lens to adjust your brightness based on the existing lighting. We were pleased with the image quality, as well, although it didn’t match up to some of the options higher up on our list. All in all, the sturdy Sharper Image instant camera is an excellent addition to our list, especially if you’re working on a smaller budget.
How We Decided
When it comes to cameras, image quality is of course one of the most important aspects to take into account. However, while this is still important for instant film cameras, we also weighed convenience and user friendliness just as heavily during our testing. Remember that you won’t get the best image quality with instant film cameras, especially when compared to DSLR cameras or other digital cameras, but we still measured each option on our list based on their overall image quality. While you may not get the sharpest images, you’ll still want an instant camera that produces usable prints.
We also measured the instant cameras on our list based on their available camera functions. We favored cameras that featured more than just a simple point and shoot functionality. These additional features can include options like adjustable brightness, different shutter speed options and a built-in flash. The more options you have, the more customizability you get when taking photos.
Finally, we considered each camera’s overall value during our testing. In a world of digital photography, it’s rare to have additional expenses in the form of film, but with instant film cameras, it’s a necessity. However, not all instant film is made equal. Some film is more expensive than other options and there are some cameras that burn through film faster than others due to misprints or duds. We factored all of these considerations into our rankings, grading cameras higher if they offered more value.
Best Instant Film Cameras Buyer’s Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
- Ease of Use
One of the best things about instant cameras is how convenient and easy to use they are. If you’re looking for a quick and fun camera experience, then you’ll want to purchase an instant camera that isn’t overly complicated. Instant film cameras are typically considered simple point and shoot cameras, so their operation shouldn’t be more complicated than just pointing at your intended subject and pressing a button. Some instant film cameras include additional camera functionality – which we cover below – but even these extra features shouldn’t be hard to learn and use.
- Processing Time
Another feature to consider when it comes to purchasing a new instant film camera is how quickly the film fully processes without any kind of interference. While all instant film develops almost immediately, the whole processing time can range up to 40 minutes, and you may even need to wait up to 24 hours before all of the spots on the film disappear completely. The best instant film cameras can fully process their film within 10 minutes, but during our testing, we noticed that most cameras have an average of 20-30 minutes of processing time.
- Camera Functions
While a good amount of instant cameras only offer point and shoot functionality, the best options include a little more in the functionality department. You’ll likely pay a little more for these extra features, but they are well worth it if you want to manually adjust camera settings to get the best picture possible on instant film. Functionality like adjustable shutter speed and a brightness dial can help you achieve an even better picture at the end of the day. Many options also include a built-in flash so you can even snap photos in the dark without worry. If you purchase an instant camera with flash, be aware that you’ll also need to account for batteries and battery life.
Instant Film Cameras FAQs
Which is the best instant camera?
Our top pick is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 because of its design, image quality and pro photography features. There’s a reason this instant film camera is one of the most popular options on the market today.
Is the Instax Mini 9 worth buying?
Absolutely! It made our top pick for good reason. This camera looks great, is easy to use and takes excellent pictures.
Are instant cameras any good?
While instant film cameras may not offer image quality as high as DSLR cameras, they still offer a unique and high-quality approach to taking pictures. Instant cameras of today are better than the classic instant cameras because they use better film and overall better technology.
Does instant camera film expire?
Yes, instant camera film does expire. Different manufacturer’s may vary in their expiration dates, but for the most part, you should use any instant film you have within 12 months of purchase for the best results.
How do instant film cameras work?
In the end, instant camera film works almost exactly the same as traditional film. The camera first exposes the film to a brief flash of light, which also captures the image. Then, once the instant camera ejects the film, the camera rollers press on the film and release the reagent chemical to start the chemical reaction that develops the image into a full picture.
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